Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Beware of betting NBA games until the playoffs, plus a pair of MLB picks for Thursday night

It’s Opening Day, but it doesn’t feel like it here in Chicago. I woke up this morning to temperatures in the low-40s with rain. As I was walking the dog, that rain became more of a wintry mix, which is the worst weather to walk in. It’s one thing to be rained on, but when it’s somewhat frozen, the raindrops hitting your face go from “water” to tiny little ice pellets.

While being hit in the face by these icy pellets, I came across a man leaving his apartment building. As I came closer to him, I could see he was wearing a beanie with a Cubs logo on it, and the jacket he wore had a Cubs logo on the left breast too. Beneath it were the words “Ballpark Operations.”

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Using my exceptional detective skills, I deduced this man was making his way to Wrigley Field to work the Cubs opener. I jokingly said to him, “beautiful day for a ballgame!” If he said anything in return, I couldn’t understand it. Instead, all I got was a bassy rumbling acknowledgment that I existed. One that let me know that this man was not excited about heading to work for the afternoon.

I hope the sun comes out at some point today and brightens his mood. If it doesn’t, well, at least I’ll be watching baseball inside today.

Now let’s turn those frowns upside down, or at least win some money to comfort us in the cold.

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook


🔥 The Hot Ticket

🏀 Celtics at Bucks, 7:30 p.m. | TV: NBA League Pass

Latest Odds: Boston Celtics +8.5

Powered by Caesars Sportsbook

  • Key Trend: The Celtics have covered each of the last six meetings
  • The Pick: Celtics +6.5 (-110)

I cannot wait until the NBA Playoffs start. Not because they’re better viewing than regular-season games — though they most definitely are — but because betting playoff games is a lot less of a random number generator than so much of the late regular season is. After sorting through all the muck, this is the one play on the board tonight I have the most confidence in.

The Celtics have played very well against the Bucks! They come into tonight having covered in each of the last six meetings, and they’ve won four of those games outright. While there’s some reason to worry about the Celtics playing on consecutive nights, they’re a good team that played the Bulls yesterday, and like all good teams against the Bulls, they won by more than 20 points. So it wasn’t the most taxing performance physically, and they should be fresh.

Now, that said, I advise you to take some caution with this play and any NBA play this weekend. Usually, we want to make sure we get the best odds, and sometimes you have to get in early. This weekend I prefer to wait as long as possible before betting on any NBA game. You don’t know what might happen. It could be 20 minutes before tip when it’s announced somebody like Jayson Tatum is sitting out, so be patient. If there are no major lineup announcements ahead of time, make this play confidently. If there are, I’d avoid it and focus on these next two baseball picks instead.

Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Projection Model doesn’t like much in this game, but it’s heaviest lean — and I use that term loosely — is to one side of the total.


💰 The Picks

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Getty Images

⚾ MLB

Mets at Nationals, 7:05 p.m. | TV: ESPN+

The Pick: Under 9 (+100) — 
First of all, my condolences to all Mets fans who spent the entire offseason waiting to see Jacob deGrom or Max Scherzer on the mound for Opening Day. To go from those two possibilities to Tylor Megill is a steep drop. But, on the bright side, baseball is back! As longtime subscribers know, that means it’s time to start paying attention to weather reports again, because no sport is impacted by the weather as much as baseball.

Tonight it will make its presence known in our nation’s capital. There is a decent chance of rain — especially early — in the forecast and strong winds blowing in from left field. While Nationals Park isn’t as susceptible to the weather as many other parks, low temps and howling winds will affect the flight patterns of balls put in the air tonight. Plus, I wouldn’t be surprised to see lower-scoring games early this season. A shortened spring has kept hitters from getting a great feel at the plate, and with pitchers not stretched out, odds are we’ll see a lot of bullpen usage. That means hitters won’t be seeing the same pitcher multiple times, which makes hitting more difficult.

Key Trend: The under is 17-8-2 in the Mets last 27 road games.

Astros at Angels, 9:38 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV

The Pick: Angels (-120) — 
Yesterday I told you to bet the Astros to win the AL West, but tonight I’m telling you to bet against Houston and on their strongest competitor. It’s not a great matchup for the Astros tonight, as Shohei Ohtani will be on the mound and in the lineup for the Angels. Meanwhile, Framber Valdez gets the starting nod for Houston, and, while he’s a perfectly suitable starter, he hasn’t had much success against these Angels.

Valdez’s overall numbers against the Halos aren’t terrible, individually, but a lot of the bats in the Angels lineup have roughed him up. Valdez has a strikeout rate of 22.6% in his career, but Angels hitters have struck out only 16.8% of the time against him, and when you pair that with Valdez’s already high walk rate (10.6% for his career), it’s not a great combination. This isn’t to say the Angels will light him up, but they won’t need to do much damage to get a lead with Ohtani going.

Key Trend: The Astros are 2-6 in their last eight games as an underdog.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: Strap on your skates, because we’re hitting the ice. The SportsLine Projection Model’s top play of the day is on one side of tonight’s meeting between the Arizona Coyotes and Vancouver Canucks.


🏀 Tonight’s Parlay

The NBA is a total crapshoot at the moment, but there is some value to be found on this parlay paying +111 tonight.

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